Sunday, January 29, 2006

Willow Street, Ray Brown & Aldermen

A political furor has been sparked by alderman Dennis Odle over one of the empty buildings on Willow Street. The building in question is essentially abandonned and was damaged by a fire last year. The building's owner, Ray Brown, apparently owes quite a lot of back taxes on the building. The Waterbury Development Corporation wants to tear down the building to create an access point to a parking lot, which would improve the chances that the other buildings on Willow Street could become home to thriving businesses.

Odle's plan, to give state money to Brown so he can pay off the taxes owed to the city, seems like a very bad plan. I can definitely understand why it wasn't approved. It reeks of corruption. Next thing you know, all the property owners will stop paying taxes in the hopes that the city will give them state money.

What about eminent domain? If this property is so essential to revitalizing this neighborhood, why doesn't the city seize the property through eminent domain? The property owner is showing no sign of repairing the fire damage -- he hasn't even bothered to put a tarp over the giant hole in the roof. He owes back taxes on the property, and it sounds like he has no plans to pay them. The building itself has no particular historic or aesthetic merit and looks like it would be very difficult to convert to a practical purpose. If the aldermen can seize and demolish other blighted buildings, why not this one? Why even consider paying off the owner?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

2006 starts in Waterbury with just enough snow to make everything look pretty. New Year's Eve in downtown Waterbury was extremely quiet. A lot of bars were closed -- the only ones that were open are the ones in restaurants. I guess I never noticed this before, but for most people here New Year's eve is a night for couples to go out to dinner. It seems kind of odd. I think it's more fun when half the city gathers together outside for a celebration. Oh well. Maybe something will happen here next year.